Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Group Asks SEC to Investigate Shell's Statements of Arctic Drilling Risks

Energy
Group Asks SEC to Investigate Shell's Statements of Arctic Drilling Risks

Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity today requested that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigate Royal Dutch Shell for potentially misleading statements about its readiness to drill in the Arctic Ocean for offshore oil. 

“Drilling for oil in the harsh Arctic environment presents serious risks to people and wildlife. In these conditions, Shell’s claims that it is ready to drill must be closely scrutinized,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center. “The BP spill caused tremendous damage to the environment and local communities, costing billions. Shell’s drilling in remote, icy waters—set to begin this summer—risks even more.”

Offshore oil drilling can lead to substantial costs and liability for accidents in extreme conditions. In its public statements about drilling off the coast of Alaska, Shell has claimed it can mechanically recover 95 percent of oil from open water. But the spill-containment device the company intends to use has yet to be tested or proven. After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, only 3 percent of the spilled oil was mechanically recovered; after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, 8 percent of spilled oil was recovered mechanically.

“Shell asserts that it’s adequately prepared for drilling off Alaska, yet there’s no nearby Coast Guard station or other infrastructure in the Arctic for swift oil-spill response,” said Sakashita. “We’re worried about spoiling the Arctic’s pristine wildlife habitat and are concerned that Shell simply doesn’t have the ability to safely drill this summer in some of the world’s harshest waters, so we’ve asked the SEC to look into it.”

The letter notes potentially misleading statements by Shell about the condition of the Kulluk, the drill rig that it plans to use in the icy, stormy waters of the Arctic Ocean. Although the company said the drill rig was ready for use in 2010, an inspection report the following year found that it was unprepared for drilling and even lacked a blowout preventer, a key piece of equipment in stemming the flow of an oil spill. The Kulluk is currently being repaired in Seattle.

The Center’s letter urges the SEC to launch an investigation of Shell with regard to its Arctic drilling program. It follows a report released on April 12 by Lloyd’s of London describing the key risks of Arctic development, including a finding that an Arctic oil spill would present “multiple obstacles, which together constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk.”

For more information, click here.

Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse attends a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2015. Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to cancel the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his administration, a document reported by CBC on Sunday suggests.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Seabirds often follow fishing vessels to find easy meals. Alexander Petrov / TASS via Getty Images

By Jim Palardy

As 2021 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife worldwide are facing a panoply of environmental issues. In an effort to help experts and policymakers determine where they might focus research, a panel of 25 scientists and practitioners — including me — from around the globe held discussions in the fall to identify emerging issues that deserve increased attention.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A damaged home and flooding are seen in Creole, Louisiana, following Hurricane Laura's landfall on August 27, 2020. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Elliott Negin

What a difference an election makes. Thanks to the Biden-Harris victory in November, the next administration is poised to make a 180-degree turn to again address the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
The new variant, known as B.1.1.7, spread quickly through southeastern England in December, causing case numbers to spike and triggering stricter lockdown measures. Hollie Adams / Getty Images

By Suresh Dhaniyala and Byron Erath

A fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been found in at least 10 states, and people are wondering: How do I protect myself now?

Read More Show Less
A seagull flies in front of the Rampion offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom. Neil / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

A key part of the United States' clean energy transition has started to take shape, but you may need to squint to see it. About 2,000 wind turbines could be built far offshore, in federal waters off the Atlantic Coast, in the next 10 years. And more are expected.

Read More Show Less